37 Funny Spanish Idioms You Can Use In Everyday Conversation

37 Funny Spanish Idioms You Can Use In Everyday Conversation

Have you ever heard a Spanish mother call her youngest son the “la oveja negra”?

If you are a beginner language learner, you might have made a quick translation and realized that that phrase translates to “the black sheep”. 

You might have patted yourself on the back for “understanding it” before it dawned on you, did it really make sense that she just called her son “oveja”?

Congratulations, you just ran into a Spanish idiom. An idiom, in any language, is a phrase that has a different, figurative meaning, from what the individual words say.

While there may be direct translations of the words used in these idioms, they will rarely match up to what a native language speaker meant when they said it. 

Why Do I Need to Know Spanish Idioms?

The Spanish language contains many idioms that native speakers use daily. Spanish idioms can be awfully confusing for beginner Spanish language learners. While you may be able to translate what the words mean, the context can totally escape you sometimes.

Idioms, along with Spanish slang and Spanish swear words are important to learn. In this post, we’re going to share some common Spanish idioms and what they mean.

37 Common Spanish Idioms to Make You Sound Native

If you want to become fluent enough to hold conversations with native Spanish speakers, you need to start familiarizing yourself with some common Spanish idioms and what they mean. 

For your entertainment, we’ve also included the literal translations of these idioms as some of them are pretty funny. There are a lot of references to food and animals.

 Let’s start with the idiom we used above.

 1. Ser la oveja

Meaning: Good for nothing

Translation: To be the black sheep

As we mentioned, the literal meaning of this phrase is “to be the black sheep”. If your familiar with the English idiom “black sheep”, this is pretty much the same thing.

A black sheep is someone who is considered a “good for nothing” or unsuccessful compared to their compatriots. 

2. No importar un pepino/ rábano / pimiento

Meaning: To be irrelevant

Translation: Not to matter a cucumber/radish/pepper

When you hear this idiom, it means the speaker is saying that someone or something does not matter. 

3. No haber color

Meaning: No comparison

Translation: There is no color

When someone says this, they are saying there is no comparison between two different things. 

4. Andar con pies

Meaning: Be careful

Translation: To walk with lead feet

When you hear the advice to “andar con pies” someone is telling you to be careful as you might be on the verge of doing something offensive or wrong. It’s the equivalent to the English idiom “tread lightly”.

5. Tener vista de lince 

Meaning: Have good vision

Translation: To have the eyesight of a lynx

This is basically identical to saying someone has the “eyes of a hawk/eagle” in English. The Spanish think lynx have good eyesight and they are not wrong as one of the reasons these predatory cats are good hunters is because of good vision.

6. No ver tres en un burro

Meaning: Have a bad vision

Translation: Not being able to see three on a donkey

If you have bad vision, this idiom implies, you won’t be able to see well enough to count a donkey’s legs.  

7. Verle las orejas al lobo 

Meaning: Notice danger

Translation: To see the ears of the wolf

If you “see the ears of the wolf”, you noticed the danger. Being alert to danger means that you can warn other people.

8. Ser pan comido

Meaning: It’s easy

Translation: To eat bread

If a Spanish speaker says this to you, they are trying to reassure you that something is easy. It is a descriptive idiom that means to put you at ease, because what’s difficult about eating bread? 

9. Dormir a pierna suelto

Meaning: Deep sleeper

Translation: Sleep with a loose leg

No insomnia for anyone described with this Spanish idiom. This refers to someone who falls asleep easily and deeply.

10. Estar como una cabra

Meaning: Act crazy

Translation: To be like a goat

This describes someone who is not acting rationally.

11. Ser un melon

Meaning: Act stupid

Translation: To be a melon

When someone says this, they are implying that someone is not acting very smart at the moment. It’s not the same as saying they are really mentally incapacitated, just not thinking straight right now.

12. Tomar el pelo

Meaning: Joking

Translation: To take the hair

This is basically the equivalent to the English idiom “You’re pulling my leg.” When you hear this, someone is saying that they don’t believe what someone else is saying.

13. No tener pelos en la lengua

Meaning: Straightforward

Translation: No hairs on the tongue

This idiom is meant to describe someone who in English is a “straight shooter.” In other words, someone who is straightforward and speaks their mind.

14. Tener memoria de pez

Meaning: Forgetful

Translation: To have the memory of a fish

This idiom is used to describe someone who has a bad memory

15. Ser un rata 

Meaning: Stingy

Translation: To be a rat

In what could be a reference to the idea that rats are greedy and grab food for themselves at every opportunity, being like a rat in Spanish means that you are stingy. You keep your money hidden away and hate spending, especially on others.

16. Tirar la cas por la venta

Meaning: Spent a lot

Translation: Throw the house through the window

Someone who does this is the opposite of a “rat”. They are not stingy and are willing to spend a lot on something they want. No expenses are spared.

17. Tiene más lana que un borrego

Meaning: Rich

Translation: More wool than a lamb

If this applies to someone, they are really capable of saying “tirar la cas por la venta” because they have a lot of money. The equivalent to the English idiom “loaded with cash”.

18. Temblar como un flan

Meaning: Nervous

Translation: To shake like pudding

This means that someone is acting visibly nervous or “shaky”.

19. Quedarse de piedra

Meaning: Stunned

Translation: Stay like a stone

When you are so stunned by something that you stand stock-still or are unable to react for a few seconds.

20. Tener la negra

Meaning: To have bad luck

Translation: To have the black

This idiom refers to someone who is down on their luck. 

21. Ponerse como un tomate

Meaning: Blushing

Translation: To turn into a tomato

This means you are turning red or flushed due to emotion. In other words, you are blushing.

22. Se un bombón

Meaning: Good looking

Translation: A piece of candy

You could be blushing because your crush, who is “se un bombón” smiled at you. This Spanish idiom is the equivalent of the English idiom “eye candy”, someone who is good looking.

23. Ser un gallina 

Meaning: Cowardly

Translation: To be a hen

When you are “being a hen”, you are acting frightened. This is basically the equivalent to the taunt “Your being chicken” in English, which means you’re a coward.  

24. Dar gato por liebre

Meaning: To trick someone

Translation: To give cat for hare

In the old days, when buying meat in the market, people would often ask to see the head of the animal to make sure that they get what they paid for. In the case of hare’s, people would want one with the head attached to be sure it was a hare because the head of a cat could pass for a hare. 

Long story short, this means that you tricked or intended to trick someone.

25. Lo dijo de labios para fuera

Meaning: Say something you don’t mean

Translation: Said from the lips outwards

This idiom refers to saying something that you didn’t really mean to, either because it’s untrue or because you knew it wouldn’t be well received.

26. Dar en el blanco

Meaning: To be right 

Translation: To throw in the white

This means that someone’s answer to a question or thoughts about a situation turned out to be the right one. 

27. Buscar tres pies al gato

Meaning: To make something more complicated than it is

Translation: To look for the three feet on a cat

This funny Spanish idiom implies that you are thinking too much about a situation and making things harder and more complicated than it has to be. 

28. Ponerse de mala leche

Meaning:  In a bad mood

Translation: To get in bad milk 

Bad milk is sour, so, to get in bad milk is to be sour or in a bad mood. 

29. Estar hecho un aji

Meaning: To be angry

Translate: To be made a chili

This idiom probably refers to the fact that chili peppers are hot. So if you are “made a chili” you are hot or angry.

30. Meter la pata

Meaning: To make a mistake

Translation: To put the leg on it

This Spanish idiom can be thought of as similar to the English idiom of “stepping into it” or putting the “wrong foot forward.” It means that you made the wrong move and are now potentially in trouble.

31. Empezar la casa por el tejado

Meaning: Do things in the wrong order

Translation: To start the house by the roof

The equivalent to this idiom in English is “to put the cart before the horse”. The implication is that you are thinking too far ahead and not concentrating on what should be your first steps. 

32. Estar más sano que una per

Meaning: Healthy

Translation: To be healthier than a pear

This idiom is used to say that you or someone else is healthy.

33. Estar en la edad del pavo

Meaning: Being an angsty teenager

Translation: To be in the turkey’s age

When someone says this about someone, they are comparing them to a moody or angsty teenager. So it’s similar to “ponerse de mala leche” in the sense that you’re saying someone is in a bad mood. 

34. Ser del año de la pera

Meaning: To be old and out of touch

Translation: To be from the year of the pear

Another idiom about age, this means that someone is old. Not just old, but also out of touch and clueless to the realities of now. Kids can use it to explain why their parents are confused by their smartphones. 

35. Ser uña y carne

Meaning: Very good friends

Translation: To be fingernail and flesh

This rather odd Spanish idiom basically means “inseparable”. It is used to describe good friends who are almost always together and very close.

36. No tener ni pies ni cabeza

Meaning: Not making sense

Translation: Without feet or head

When someone uses this idiom, they are saying you or someone else is not making sense. It can also be used to imply instructions or commands are not clear.

 37. Lavarse las manos 

Meaning: To deny responsibility

Translation: To wash your hands

Given that Spain and the Spanish culture is heavily influenced by Catholicism, this idiom probably comes from the story of Pontious Pilate. Before he condemned Jesus Christ to the Cross, he was said to have literally washed his hands and declared that he was not responsible, it was what the crowd wanted.

Conclusion

So now you know some Spanish idioms, now is the time to start using them in everyday conversations. In order to do so, you first need to memorize these idioms and their meanings.

Spanish is a rich language and native Spanish-speakers regularly use more than just these idioms, so you should really look around for more.

You can ask your Spanish speaking friends and your online native Spanish speaking tutor about more fun and funny Spanish Idioms that you should learn. 

It goes without saying that you should practice using these idioms in conversation with them as well.

Why do I need to know Spanish idioms?

The Spanish language contains many idioms that native speakers use daily. Spanish idioms can be awfully confusing for beginner Spanish language learners. While you may be able to translate what the words mean, the context can totally escape you sometimes. Idioms, along with Spanish slang and Spanish swear words are important to learn. In this post, we’re going to share some common Spanish idioms and what they mean.

What are some common Spanish idioms?

Ser la oveja - Good for nothing. No importa un pepino - It doesn't matter. Andar con pies - Be careful.

What does the idiom Tener vista de lince mean?

Have a bad vision

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